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What are people in heaven doing right now?

 If this question were on a coin, the other side would read, “Doesn't the Bible say we can't know anything about heaven?” The result of this kind of assumption is that heaven is boring. As Christians we know Heaven must be exciting, but it’s hard to be excited about something when we don’t know what we are supposed to be excited about. The most common response to the claim that Heaven won’t be boring is to, albeit unintentionally, fuel the fire of boringness, mainly by saying something like, “Heaven is great because it’s beyond our imagination!” But such an answer is like asking someone to invest his life savings in a company about which he knows nothing, which isn’t sensible … or biblical. Jesus encourages his followers to be competent, not ignorant (Lk 14:28). What’s more, Paul specifically says this is true for the subject of Heaven, writing that the Holy Spirit has revealed things of Heaven to us, so we can “know” them and “speak” them (1 Cor 2:10, 12-13).

 

We would do well to study Heaven so that we can “set our minds on the things above” (Col 3:2).

 

Answering this question requires us to identify how the Bible portrays Heaven. The Bible describes Heaven much like it describes the Trinity, meaning it doesn’t have an explicit passage that describes all of the intricacies of the Trinity, but instead, throughout the course of the entire Book, offers substantive insights on the idea of the Trinity. Such is the case with Heaven.

 

Heaven is best understood as existing in epochs (eras of time), which are altered by significant Christological events on earth. Like a pair of pants altered by a tailor, so Jesus Christ tailors Heaven. The pants are the same, but they are changed. Likewise, Heaven is the same, but it’s changed. And this is a good thing, because, for one example, we could not enter Heaven until Jesus rose from the dead (Jn 14:6). But now “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” because Jesus made a way for us (2 Cor 5:8).

 

The Bible shows that Heaven exists in seven different epochs that range from Heaven prior to creation to Heaven in the New Creation. Three of these epochs are already passed, one is present, and three are in the future. This article will only focus on what people are doing in heaven right now, but for a more detailed answer you can read our answer to "What will we do in Heaven?"

  

The best thing we get to do in the present epoch of Heaven is to be with God, something that wasn’t possible prior to Jesus’ resurrection, which is when the present epoch began. For the first time since the Fall, which brought separation between God and man, Jesus created the possibility for man to be with God again. Therefore, upon death, man is reunited with God.

 

Jesus describes the present epoch of Heaven in John 14 when he calls Heaven “My Father’s house” (Jn 14:2). He says that in this house are “many dwelling places,” and further says that believers go there when they die (Jn 14:3). This is the best description in the Bible of the present epoch of Heaven. That Jesus describes this as “the Father’s House” with many “dwelling places” is not insignificant, and it might offer clues into how we spend our time in the present epoch of Heaven.

 

The description of a “dwelling place” in the “Father’s House” implies Heaven is like a big house with lots of rooms, like apartments. The intended meaning is that we will have our own individual rooms within a large house, rather than our own house, or “mansion” as some translations suggest. This is noteworthy. It’s not that we each get our own mansion, but that we live in the Father’s mansion, which is far better. We get to live in God's house!

 

A “dwelling place” is, by design, intended to provide several things, including protection from the elements (Mat 7:25), rest (Mk 2:15), and the prospect of hospitality (Mk 3:20; Lk 7:36). If we take Jesus’ description of the present Heaven—the “Father’s House” with many “dwelling places”—as reminiscent of a house on earth, then we can assume that the present Heaven is about things like safety, rest, and fellowship, which helps to answer the question as to what we will do in the present Heaven.

 

We will rest: The importance of rest is established from the very onset of Scripture. God rested on the seventh day (Gen 2:2), and told Israel that the land needed to rest in the seventh year (Lev 25:4). Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). By describing the present Heaven as a “house” with “dwelling places,” Jesus implies that the present Heaven is designed to be a place of rest. This thought is encouraged with the notion that we will come back with Jesus to do more work on earth at his Second Coming (Rev 19:14). The present Heaven, therefore, is designed as a Sabbath in the intermediate period between our present and future time on earth. Our souls are not asleep, as some suggest ("soul sleep"); we are alive, yet resting (2 Cor 5:8).

 

We will fellowship: The present Heaven is also a place of fellowship and hospitality. The context of John 14 concerns one of the greatest acts of fellowship and hospitality in history—the Last Supper (Jn 13). In this event Jesus took his disciples to a “dwelling place” called the Upper Room, where he broke bread and washed feet. This is one of the clearest pictures of the present Heaven available—God fellowshipping with, and serving man.

 

During the present Heaven God invites us into his house, and we get to fellowship with him for an indeterminate amount of time. We get to sit at his dinner table and break bread with him, with our loved ones, and with the saints of old.

 

Jesus’ words in John 14 provide insights that lead us towards real content on the present Heaven, the kind that keeps us from merely imagining what it is like. We learn that boringness has no hold on a place where we get to have dinner with God, and take restful naps in his guest rooms.

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